Black and White Buffalo Check Craft Pumpkin

DIY Buffalo Plaid Painted Pumpkin

I think this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! I saw these buffalo check painted pumpkins on Better Homes & Gardens’ Instagram a couple weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about them ever since!

They have a really helpful video tutorial up on their website to DIY. I used a small, lightweight papier mache pumpkin ($3 from Joann). It was already white, but it was kind of uneven so I went over the whole thing with white paint before I started.

DIY Buffalo Check Pumpkin

Following the video instructions, I lightly drew horizontal lines, then freehand painted the vertical lines in gray. Next, the horizontal checks are filled in with the same shade of gray. Last, I mixed a little black paint in with the gray and went over the overlapping checks to make the gingham pattern.

I was worried about the lines looking uneven/wavy, but I actually think the imperfect look works for the style of this pumpkin. This is easily my new favorite Halloween decoration and I will definitely be leaving it up through Thanksgiving! For now, it looks really cute with my gray and black kitty pumpkin. 🙂

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Easy & Quick Black Cat Pumpkin Halloween Decor

Easy & Cheap Black Cat Pumpkin Decor

Here is a quick and easy idea for a cute Halloween pumpkin that can be used year after year. As soon as I saw the cute kitty cat pumpkins in this post, I knew I had to make my own!

I love the black and white theme she used, but then I found these gray pumpkins with glittery black stems ($3 at Target) and that’s what I decided to use.

Black Cat Halloween Pumpkin in the Making

Not trusting my drawing skills, I drew the cat outlines in pencil first and found that pencil erases very cleanly from the lightweight styrofoam material. Then I just traced and filled in with a black felt-tip Sharpie, and added whiskers with a smaller Sharpie. All done!

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6 Halloween Kids’ Games Ideas for Your Class Party

Easy Halloween Party Games Ideas for Kids

One of my favorite things about working in a school is the different parties and celebrations throughout the year! Halloween is by far my favorite holiday, so I can easily go overboard thinking of fun things to do for a party. Below are some ideas I thought would work especially well in a classroom, but they could really work for any Halloween party.

These are all fairly simple to put together, and can be pulled off on a small budget. If you have more than one adult in the room, it might work best to set a few of them up center-style so they don’t get overcrowded (AKA chaotic!)

  1. Costume contest!

Fun Kids Games for Classroom Halloween Party

Most of the kids are probably wearing their costumes to school anyway. Incorporate small prizes or treats and come up with a bunch of categories to include everyone (ex: most creative, spookiest, funniest, most colorful, etc!)

  1. Ring toss!

Halloween ring toss!

Use a witch hat or a pumpkin with a long stem and glow in the dark necklaces for the rings. Try it with the lights off!

  1. Guessing game!

Candy corn guessing game!

Fill a jar full of candy corn or pom-poms and have the kid’s guess how many are in the jar. Closest guess wins a prize!

  1. Boo Bowling!

Draw spooky ghost faces on clear or white plastic cups. Stack them up into a pyramid and have the kids use a tennis ball (or any small ball) to knock them down.

  1. Witch’s Potion!

Everyone participate in making a witch’s potion. Have available a selection of ingredients, such as water, different  juices, sodas, chocolate syrup and a few odd ingredients like lemon juice, different condiments, soy sauce and anything else weird. (Watch out for any allergies in the class though!)

Each child gets to choose one ingredient to add, either weird or ordinary. Every child has to taste the brew at the end though, so remind them of that when choosing their ingredients!

An adult should add the ingredients so the brew doesn’t get too crazy! I would also start with a base of water to keep the sugar content down.

  1. Touch and Guess!

Halloween Party Games for Kids

Blindfold each child and have them touch a selection of food items. You can either have them guess what “creepy” thing they think it feels like or guess what the item actually is. Make sure to keep the items hidden until blindfolds are on so they don’t know what’s coming! Use edible items and let the kids smell and taste if they can’t figure it out by touching.

Here are some ideas to use:

  • Pumpkin: Guts
  • Grapes: Eyeballs
  • Cooked Spaghetti: Brains
  • Yogurt: Slime
  • Jello: Guts
  • Broken Potato chips: Fingernails
  • Gummy worms: Earth worms
  • Sun Flower Seeds: Witch’s Teeth
  • Raisins: Boogers
  • Pretzel Sticks: Bones
  • Thin Cheese Slices: Pieces of skin
  • Crushed Oreos or Graham Crackers: Dirt


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Constellation Map Art for Kids – Goes with Mystery Science “Spaceship Earth” Unit

Constellation Star Maps - Kids Astronomy Science Activity

In the class that I work in, we use and love Mystery Science. If you have not heard of it, check it out! It’s super engaging and the kids love it so much more than learning from a textbook. I believe you can still get one free year of membership.

Each lesson (mystery) is set up with an “exploration” – usually a combination of video, pictures, and discussion questions. Followed by that is an activity – a fun, hands-on small project that the kids complete individually or in groups. Some activities require supplies that need to be purchased ahead of time, but usually they are inexpensive household items.

Following the activity, there is always a list of extras, including an assessment – usually 3-5 questions that check for understanding.

Here is what the beginning of each lesson looks like:

Mystery Science Spaceship Earth Unit

As amazing as Mystery Science is though, there aren’t enough mysteries to get through the whole year. We try stretch the lessons out by sprinkling in a few fun projects or activities to go with each unit. (And I always try to create a related reading list on Epic!)

We’re currently working through the “Spaceship Earth” unit of 5th grade science. It’s all about astronomy – the sun, stars, constellations, seasons, etc.

For a quick activity in between mysteries, the kids made these cute constellation maps to hang on the wall.

Constellation Star Map Art Project

*This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase using one of the links, I will receive a small commission. There will be no additional cost to you.

We put a list of constellations on the board and each student chose one to work with. I put my sample up on the board then turned them loose with half a sheet of black card stock, some gold star stickers, a white colored pencil, and a ruler.

They looked up their constellations on their computers, drew out the shape of it with their ruler and white pencil, then stuck the star stickers on. The constellation names were written on the front with the white pencil.

A simple, fun activity for any kid old enough to handle a ruler!

Does anybody else use Mystery Science? What kinds of activities do you use to go along with it?


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Peanut Butter and Chocolate Protein Smoothie Recipe

*This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase using one of the links, I will receive a small commission. There will be no additional cost to you.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Smoothie Recipe

I have been trying to perfect my smoothie recipe for years. I mostly eat vegetarian, so I want to be able to pack in as much protein as possible for days when I might not get enough.

This recipe is perfect for me – it’s simple, tastes good (no banana!), and even without the protein powder it still provides a good amount of protein. Sometimes if I have iced coffee in the fridge, I replace part of the almond milk with that.

Ingredients:

  • handful of dry oats
  • 1 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder (I like Isopure Zero Carb, Unflavored)
  • about 1 cup chocolate almond milk (or regular milk, or soymilk, whatever)
  • 1 spoonful peanut butter
  • 2 spoonfuls cottage cheese
  • up to 1/4 cup baked or steamed sweet potato
  • 3 or 4 ice cubes

Directions:

Add oats to blender and grind for a few seconds to break them down. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth. (You’ll want to let it go until you don’t see large chunks of oats swirling around, it’s better if they’re good and broken down.)

*Tips:

  • I usually bake 3-4 whole sweet potatoes at once, then once they cool I scoop them out of their skins & into plastic containers to store in the freezer.
  • I use chocolate almond milk because I always have it around, but unsweetened would probably be healthier. 😉 It would still have a chocolate flavor from the cocoa powder.


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My Favorite Easy DIY Lotion Recipe

Let me start by saying that this lotion is not one of those pretty ones I see all over Pinterest. It’s not tinted with rose petals or lavender buds. It does not work in a pump, and it doesn’t look like fluffy frosting in a mason jar.

Easy DIY Healing Lotion Recipe

 

*This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase using one of the links, I will receive a small commission. There will be no additional cost to you.

It does work, though. My skin is SO dry. Like always a little itchy, usually kinda flaky, and even worse in the winter. I have tried probably every type of lotion in the lotion aisle at Target. They all seem to sit on top of my skin, leaving a film and doing absolutely nothing to actually moisturize.

A few years ago, I finally got tired of throwing away every lotion I bought. I had read that coconut oil works well as a moisturizer, so I tried that and it worked better than anything else I had tried.

It still wasn’t quite enough to get the job done, and if I didn’t allow enough time for it to sink in it left a little oily residue on my clothes. I started experimenting with different coconut oil-based lotion recipes found online.

I found that the simplest thing was actually the best, and have been using it ever since. My skin has never been happier and it is so easy to make, it’s ridiculous. It does not have to be an exact science. I don’t use exactly the same proportions every time and it always turns out great. You could easily add your favorite essential oils to it – I sometimes do, but usually prefer unscented lotion.

Here’s how to make it.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. coconut oil (I buy whatever’s cheapest at the grocery store)
  • 4 oz. shea butter (I use refined because the unrefined smells nasty and this works just as well)

Method:

Add roughly equal amounts of coconut oil and shea butter to a double boiler. I use the bowl of my stand mixer so I can go straight into the next step. Stir occasionally until completely melted. Remove the bowl from heat and place in the refrigerator. Let chill until mixture is cooled and just beginning to solidify (you will see it start to go from clear to opaque-white.)

*Note: If you completely forget about it and it gets solid in the fridge, just set it on the counter until it softens up a bit. (This happens to me every single time.)

Mix on med-high with electric mixer until it is smooth and white. It might be sort of runny, but mine always firms up after sitting for awhile.

Scoop it into a container with a lid and you’re good to go. A little bit goes a long way, so it lasts a long time.

I keep mine in a large plastic jar with a screw-on lid. Here’s what it looks like when done:

Coconut Oil and Shea Butter Moisturizing Lotion Recipe

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How to Create a Habit in 3 Steps

Create a Habit in 3 Simple Steps

We all have times in our lives where we decide we want to change our behavior for the better by creating new habits for ourselves. This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier, exercising more, and drinking more water. Or it could be money related, work related…or umm, maybe blogging regularly?! There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved by creating new habits.

Getting into the habit of doing something is often (almost always!) easier said than done. We seem to acquire bad habits without any effort, but getting into a good habit can be a little more challenging.

It’s helpful to break down the process into steps to make it seem less daunting. After awhile, it will become automatic and we realize we aren’t even having to force ourselves to do it anymore.

I’ve heard it takes 21-30 days to form a habit, so here are three steps to follow to get started, including my personal habits I’d like to start.

  1. Be Specific!

The first step is to decide what you want your new habit to be. Be specific. Don’t use something vague, like “I want to exercise more.” Instead, say something like “I will go to the gym five times per week”.  Making a decision and committing to it is half the battle.

My habit: Exercise at least four times per week (two days yoga class/two days exercise bike at home)

Create a Lasting Habit in 3 Steps

  1. Set an Obvious Reminder to Get it Done

The first few days are the hardest for me. I’m excited, but not used to having to remember to do this new thing. Getting started with the new habit is rough. I need something in my face, telling me to get it DONE!

Maybe it was a long day at work and I just want to relax. Maybe I have errands to run and time gets away from me. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder. Set an alert on your phone if that’s what works for you. Add it to your planner, calendar, to-do list, whatever.

My reminder: I like to write the goal down on a piece of paper and stick it near my desk. Every time I complete the task, I write down the date.

Create a Habit in 3 Steps

  1. Incorporate it into Your Existing Routine Until It Becomes A Habit

Which brings us to the last step. It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before the new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily reminders.

I think this is where things tend to go wrong for me. I need to make the habits I already have work in my favor. For example, if you always eat dessert after dinner, switch to a healthy snack instead. If you’re in the habit of enjoying a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, go for a walk before drinking it.

My routine: I usually come home from work and sit down to eat a snack, then before I know it I have run out of time to get in my bike ride or yoga class. I will try changing into my exercise clothes before I sit down so I will have no excuse not to do it! 

How to Create Good Habits in 3 Steps

That’s it! Decide to create the new habit, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit. I am going to give these steps a try starting this week and hope that it gets me back on track!

I think it’s best to start with one habit at a time so it doesn’t get overwhelming. Once my exercise habit gets underway, I do have a few more that I need to work on so I will list them here in hopes that will hold me to it!

 

Future habits:

If you have a habit in mind, good luck! I’d love to hear any new habits or helpful tips in the comments.

 

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My Favorite Meals to Make Ahead and Take to Work for Lunch

5 Easy Make Ahead Lunches

Summer break is over, and that means I am back to work. (Which I am actually pretty happy about!)

The thing I dread is having to come up with something to bring for lunch every day! I hate buying prepackaged freezer meals or a bunch of processed snack foods. It gets expensive and is really not very good for you.

Last year, I realized that if I start stocking up on leftovers from dinner a couple of weeks before school starts, I can stay ahead of the game and not be trying to scrounge together scraps of food from my cabinets each night.

I have discovered a few favorites that work really well for me. They are easy, make great dinners, and freeze/reheat really well when it comes time for lunch. Each recipe makes plenty, so I can usually get 1-2 dinners and 3-4 lunches.

Soon enough, I have a couple of weeks worth of lunches stocked up and don’t have to put any thought into it for several days!

My top five that I use on repeat are linked below:

stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe

Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese – Baked Bree (This recipe is for stovetop, but she also includes instructions for how to bake it – I always bake it!)

Chicken Enchilada Rice Casserole - all the makings of a chicken enchilada but with rice. It's simply delicious!

Chicken Enchilada Rice Casserole – Jo Cooks (I don’t eat meat, so I leave the chicken out of this one and add in a can of black beans.)

A simple, flavorful no-boil, Mushroom Baked Ziti with Spinach and Ricotta ( or sub tofu ricotta) that can be made in one pan and requires no pre-boiling of pasta. Perfect for weeknight dinners! #noboil, #ziti, #vegan | www.feastingathome.com

No Boil Mushroom Baked Ziti – Feasting at Home

Smashed Chickpea Avocado Sandwich with milk

Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Salad Sandwich – Two Peas & Their Pod (For this one, I bring the bread separately and assemble the sandwich at lunch so it doesn’t get soggy.)

One-Pan Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice in a pan

One Pan Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice – The Girl Who Ate Everything (Again, since I don’t eat meat I leave out the chicken and add extra broccoli.)

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Back to School! Fun Activities for the First Week of School

Back to School! Fun Activities for the First Week of School

Back to school time is quickly approaching, and I’ve been searching Pinterest for some fun things to do during the first week of school. The first few days are always a little weird until we get into the routine of a regular schedule. These are some of my favorite activities that I’ve found so far and plan to try when school starts. Some we used last year and will be doing again, some are new ones to try.

Back to School Emoji Activities (Emoji Back to School Activities)

Back to School Emoji Activity – Last year’s class really enjoyed these decoding sheets, and of course emoji-themed things are always a big hit! This would make a nice, quick activity for getting settled first thing in the morning.

Back To School Craft for Kids

Back to School Class Puzzle Mural – I have been wanting to try a class puzzle, and the first week of school would be a great time to do it. The kids would really have time to get creative and it gets some art work on the wall right away.

Back to School ~ FREE ~ Getting to Know You ~ Ice Breaker ~ First Day BINGO

Find a Friend Bingo – Back to School Ice Breaker – I love these! We did something similar last year and every single person participated and interacted with students they had never met.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s in Your Circles – Getting to Know You Game – We actually used this one a couple of times throughout the year last year, and the kids really enjoyed it. Those who don’t spell so well yet just drew a picture in the center. A bonus is it gets everybody out of their seats and moving around for a couple of minutes.

Morning Work for the First Weeks of School - activities/worksheets (10 days)

Morning Work for the First Weeks of School – Interest Inventory – I used something like this last year, and it’s a great way to learn some helpful things about each kid right away. They could even share some of their answers with the class and find people who have things in common.

Tinfoil and Pipe Cleaner Challenge that your kids will love!

Pipe Cleaner Challenge – I love this idea, and I think a lot of our kids who love to build would really come up with some cool stuff. This would probably be fun to do at any time during the year, and maybe switch out the materials each time and see what happens!

This DIY back-to-school time capsule is a fun way to preserve first day of school memories. Fun back-to-school activities for kids.

Back to School Time Capsule – I actually tried to do something like this last year, but I could not remember where I put the papers by the end of the year! Putting them in a cute jar and setting it somewhere obvious seems like a much better plan.

 

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August Birthstone – Beautiful Peridot Jewelry Finds on Etsy

With August about to start, I have been eyeing its pretty birthstone – Peridot. It’s just hard not to feel happy when looking at these sunny, apple-green gems. This bright, cheerful gemstone looks great with either silver or gold. Here are a few of my favorite jewelry picks from Etsy featuring this summery stone, known as “the gem of the sun.”

Green Peridot Jewelry Roundup, August Birthstone Jewelry

  1. Peridot Shard Earrings 
  2. August Birthstone Bracelet
  3. Peridot Ring
  4. Raw Peridot Necklace
  5. Rustic Dangle Peridot Earrings
  6. Strawberry Peridot Gold Necklace
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